Ellen Davidson

Adjunct Faculty

After forty years of teaching, I am still totally passionate about teaching and still always learning.  I have extensive experience in classroom teaching in both general education and special education and in urban, rural, and suburban settings.  I began teaching in a very small Appalachian school in West Virginia in 5th through 8th grades, continued to teach in an upstate New York school kindergarten through fourth grade and, more recently, taught in an alternative urban one-room school in Cambridge, MA in all grades.

I have been involved in diversity and equity education for my entire life and this remains a major commitment of mine.  Last spring Rethinking Schools published the fourth edition of a teacher resource book I co-wrote with Nancy Schniedewind, Open Minds to Equality: A Sourcebook of Learning Activities to Affirm Diversity and Promote Equity.  Working on a new edition provided us the opportunity to celebrate accomplishments of collaborative movements and help young people identify why these were successful. It also provided the opportunity to explore current issues and name some of the work that still needs to be done.  I am a frequent presenter at national and regional conferences of the National Association for Multicultural Education.

My major academic focus is on mathematics education, especially elementary and middle school.  Pedagogically I am a constructivist believing children learn more deeply when they experience disequilibrium and then put together a more robust understanding of an idea.  I do frequent consulting in the Boston Public Schools as well as in other urban districts, Chicago and Pittsburgh among others.  I have done extensive work with Education Development Center in writing Lenses on Learning, a set of curricula for school administrators about mathematics reform.

Outside of work interests, I love to travel.  This past summer, 2014, I facilitated all the mathematics teacher professional development at the elementary campus of an international school in Quito, Ecuador.  I have studied textiles in Ghana, and traveled to Morocco with educators from Somerville to visit Tiznit, our sister city.  I live in a communal house in Somerville.

Recreationally I especially love to quilt and do other textile crafts.


  • Issues in Teaching and Learning for Middle and High School Teachers
  • Mathematics for the Elementary and Early Childhood Classroom
  • Practicum Seminar: Elementary
  • I also supervise interns during their year-long practicum placements in school

Research/Creative Activities

I am especially interested in the intersection of equity and mathematics education. You can learn more in investigating the Lenses on Learning curriculum.

In working on the fourth edition of Open Minds to Equality we investigated the experiences of documented and undocumented immigrant children, being a school-age transgender child, Muslim children and families in the US today, and bullying programs that focus on the isms as central to bullying.